Skyscraper

The Lowell Sun Building in Kearney Square is actually a very early example of a skyscraper.  Built between 1912-1914, it is a ten-story early 20th century steel frame and reinforced concrete skyscraper.  The building was designed by the Chicago and Paris trained architect Clarence Blackall who also designed Boston’s first steel frame building, the Winthrop (Carter) Building in 1894, as well as many theaters including Boston’s Colonial (1900) and Wilbur (1914).


The Sun Building exhibits prototypical early skyscraper design elements with its use of structural steel, hung stone veneer (non-load bearing), and elevators.  Blackall generally used Louis Sullivan’s classical divisions in organizing the Sun Building’s design with a two story “base” distinct from the “shaft” which rises above, terminating with a classical cornice and parapet “capital.”

The building’s style reflects the Chicago background of its architect.  It was there that architects including Louis Sullivan designed a downtown full of tall buildings from 1879 to the early 20th century.  Chicago was the birthplace of Commercial and Sullivanesque styles of architecture, traditions to which the Sun Building belongs.